A. FEMKE HIEMSTRA, PERSONAL & EDUCATION, TRAINEESHIP
A.1 Are you from Sweden?
Nope, I was born in Zaanstad in 1974, a commuter town close to Amsterdam (The Netherlands). I grew up living nearby fields where I would roam the dredged ditches in search of stone pipe heads or animal skeletons. If I wasn’t building tree houses or rafts I would stay at home and read my dad’s ‘Robbedoes’ comic mags from the ’60’s, my Little Golden Books or the overfilled picture books of Richard Scarry, draw horses and birds of prey on pink paper or construct post offices out of cardboard boxes.
Today I live and work in Amsterdam, the laid-back Dutch capital.
A.2 Is you name Dutch too?
Yes, It’s Frisian to be more precise (from Friesland, a northern province of The Netherlands, where part of my family comes from). English pronunciation; the last ‘e’ of my first name is like the ‘u’ in ‘bus’ and the ‘ie’ of Hiemstra as the ‘ee’ in ‘feel’.
A.3 Did yo go to art school?
I graduated at the School of Arts in Utrecht (Illustration 1994-1997) and before that finished the Illustration and Visualizing education at the School of Graphic Arts in Amsterdam (1990-1994). After art school I was a freelance illustrator for several years and in 2006/2007 I decided to focus on making personal work.
A.4 Did you ever won awards?
I won the following awards for my illustration work:
1994: Student Illustration Award, Association of Dutch Designers
1995: Talent Trophy Illustration Award, Dutch Art Directors Club
1998: Illustration of the Year Award, Association of Dutch Designers
1998: Institutional Illustration Award, Association of Dutch Designers
A.5 Can I ask a few questions about illustration for my school paper?
Around 2007 I decided to focus on creating personal work for art exhibitions. Since then I hardly been able to do an illustration job. If I have the time I’d be happy to answer some questions on doing art but if it’s about illustration know that my information on the subject is not very up to date. You might be better off asking an illustrator who still does illustration jobs on a more regular basis.
A.6 Can I be you trainee?
I’m afraid that won’t be possible. My schedule is pretty swamped in general and I simply don’t have time to assist a trainee. (A few kind words of advice to those who are struggling to write a good request: keep your inquiry short, polite and clear (check the ‘5 W’s’). Don’t pressure things (in other words; start your search on time). Explain why you prefer a traineeship from that particular artist helps, just like sending along examples of your work (links to external pages are preferred over an email attachment. A Flickr or Blogger page will do the trick).
A.7 Can I drop by to visit your studio?
Sorry, my home studio is not suitable for visits.
B. PAINTING TECHNIQUE & INSPIRATION
B.1 Can you tell me about your painting technique?
I use thin layers of acrylics (Golden) and water (no medium) to create a painting. I often top the the work off with Karisma colour pencils. I paint with pure sable brushes, usually a #4 or #6, and my finger tips. I work on paper or panels but also use antique surfaces like old books, wooden holy water fonts or antique wooden panels. (The antique panels were originally used as either a base for a clock or as a platform to present wedding memorabilia or religious objects and statues on. In the latter cases, most objects were covered by a bell shaped glass that fitted the shape of the panel). For my graphite drawings I use soft pencils, usually Faber Castells, HB for thin sketch lines and 3B to 9B for the gradients.
B.2 Who or what are your sources of inspiration?
I can get inspired by anything from music lyrics, a news item, someone’s weird nickname to the silly stuff my cat does. I also get inspiration from other animal behavior, nature, old packages with hand drawn typography, tattoo’s, old encyclopedias, firework wrappers, vintage toys, comics, Japanese woodblock prints, old Little Golden Books, (tin toy) collectables and the art of Max Ernst, Hieronymus Bosch and the engravings of J.G. Posada.
B.3 How long does it take you to complete a painting?
To complete a piece it takes me a couple of days to several weeks, depending on the size, technique and the flow I’m in.
B.4 What kind of themes do you like to paint?
My work has once been described as ‘otherworldly folklore’ and I much like that description. The narrative of my ‘painted stories’ involve characters, inanimates and flora and fauna and is part real and part fictitious. The characters interact in a figurative surrounding yet all is cast in a surreal light. Although I don’t paint the human figure very often the creatures in the scenes behave like them, with the same glory or shortcomings as we might display. Furthermore I’m very attracted to contrasts. Humour is part of my stories but I’m also drawn to darker themes that involve strong emotions like battles, a hunt, the loss of a loved one or the ‘romantic’ death.
C. EXHIBITION & ARTWORK FAQ’S
C.1 Would you like to show at my gallery?
For all US art exhibition invitations please contact my representative Kirsten Anderson at Roq la Rue gallery, Seattle, USA. For all other exhibition requests contact me. (If I’m unable to answer I might forward your message to Kirsten as well).
C.2 I want one of your original works. How does that work and how much will it cost?
If you’d like to purchase a painting or drawing keep an eye on my show schedule. It’s best to contact one of the galleries on that schedule before the exhibition starts. Most of the galleries will have a waiting list and it’s up to the gallery to decide if you can be on it (i.e. if they are able to put new names on their list). When you’re on the list, a gallery will usually put together an online preview of the work, including the size and price. The prices are determined by size, technique and the surface it’s painted on.
By adding your name to my mailing list I can keep you up to date on all upcoming exhibitions.
C.3 Do you do commissions? Do you work on consignment?
No, I don’t.
C.4 Can I use your work for my (commercial) designs?
Not without asking me first. There’s a story behind every work I create and therefore it’s very personal. If you’d take it out of its context it will do it no good. If you have plans to use my work for whatever purpose, contact me so I can make sure it’s used in a way I’m okay with.
C.5 Can I hire you for illustration work?
Due to the short deadlines that come along with illustration work in combination with my exhibition schedule it’s difficult for me to take on projects on the side. But, every now and then exceptions may occur. Please inquire for availability.
D. PRINTS, SHIPPING & HANDLING FAQ’S
D.1 What is the estimated shipping time?
Shipping will usually take a day for the Netherlands, about 5 to 7 days for most European country’s and between 10 to 21 days for all other countries. Please allow plenty of time when ordering for a special occasion like a birthday or Christmas present. Also, keep in mind that December is a busy postal month and delays may occur more frequently.
D.2 What type of postal service do you use?
I use the regular service provided by the Dutch Postal Service, Post.nl. I use this service because it has a great price/reliability ratio and because it’s in proportion with the amount you pay for a print. The maximum weight of the shipping service is 2 kilo’s.
D.3 Does the postal service you use have track & trace?
The regular service only provides track & trace options for Dutch shipments, not for shipments in Europe or outside Europe.
If you live outside The Netherlands and you wish to have your shipment send to you by the registered service or if you’d like to add other extra’s such as express delivery, contact me for pricing details before placing an order. Please note; with added track & trace and/or insurance a shipment may be found easier when lost because of the extra encoding but full track & trace by Post.nl outside The Netherlands is not possible. Full track & trace can only be guaranteed when using a courier, but know that such a service is high-priced. See also D.2 and D.4.
D.4 I haven’t received my print yet. What to do?
I’m sorry to hear you’re still waiting for your order to arrive. Postal delays happen every now and then and are difficult to control or predict. They can occur from one postal service to another due to the differences in postal systems. Shipping to overseas addresses from The Netherlands take time to begin with and subsequently have to go through the customs of the land of destination. Sometimes a shipment gets stuck at customs and those delays are beyond my or any postal service’s control, whether you use regular mail, a registered postal method or an expensive courier. And some countries have more strict security rules (the USA, for example) or have sluggish postal services to begin with which can slow foreign shipments down.
If you’re certain the shipment hasn’t already been offered to you at a time you weren’t at home (and that it has been given to a next-door neighbour or send back to your local post office to be picked up by you), I would kindly ask for your patience and your understanding. Until this day ALL shipments arrived at their destination so I would advice to give it just a bit more time, but please keep me informed on the delay. I hope the wait does not cause you much inconvenience.
D.5 What kind of packaging material do you use?
The giclée print will be send to you flat, in acid free transparent paper or plastic envelope, wrapped between cardboard, in a bubble wrap mailer. When a print is too large to fit an envelope I’ll use cardboard tubes.
D.6 What is a giclée print?
A giclée print is a high quality ink jet reproduction, printed with fade-resistant, light fast inks. Multiple cartridges are used for variations of each colour which results in smooth gradient transitions so to keep the tonalities and hues of the original work. The quality of the giclée print is commonly found in museums and art galleries. Numerous examples of giclée prints can be found in New York City at the Metropolitan Museum or the Museum of Modern Art. (Source: gicleeprint.net).
D.7 How are the print prices determined?
The prices are determined by paper size and print run (edition). Usually a small edition will be more expensive than a larger one. The print run are 200 pieces max. If a print is a special edition with, for example, a hand made gold leaf embellishment, an extra percentage will be added to the price.
D.8 I want one of your giclée prints. How does that work?
• Pick your favorite design(s) and add it to the cart, add shipping costs and pay with Pay Pal. You’ll receive a confirmation email about the order. Within 1 to 3 days I’ll collect the print(s) and prepair it for shipping.
• The moment I shipped your order, you’ll receive an email confirmation that the print is on its way.
D.9 Are all prints signed and numbered?
Yes, they are.
D.10 The print edition is sold out. Can you make new ones? Can you print the image larger?
That won’t be possible; altering the size or printing extra copies makes the ‘original’ print edition worth less.
D.11 What’s the best way to frame a giclée print?
Make sure to use acid free matting to avoid stains made by difference in paper types. Also use acid-free tape and put a acid free piece of cardboard in between the matted print and the backing board. Personally I get the best results if I attach only the top of the print to the backside of the matting so that the print is free on the sides and the bottom. In this way the print has enough space to react to small humidity changes. The watercolour-like paper of the giclée print is delicate. Work clean and carefully or have the print framed by a professional framer. See also D.12.
D.12 What type of frame would you advice for the prints?
I would advice to keep the frame for a print simple and classical and not too overpowering or too flashy coloured. Dark colours such as black, dark brown or warm colours like (red-ish) gold and bronze often fit the atmosphere of my work well, just like profiles with small embellishments (such as subtle curls, a flower or plant design, a dotted edge, classical ornaments etc.). Straight lined, simple (dark coloured) classical frames become more interesting with an added ‘inlay’ frame in gold or silver, or inlays with a small profile (ask your framer). Thin frames (a 1″ to 1.2″ / 2,5 to 3 cm width) fit most of my prints the best.
Matting can be used to give the work more surrounding space and/or an extra touch. An off-white coloured matting often is a good choice since it’ll never conflict with the image and fits most interiors. A distance of about 3″ (± 7,5 cm) from the image to the inside of the frame often is a good size for the matting. Double matting (i.e. two same sized mattings, one with a ‘cut-out’ ± 0.2″ (0,5 cm) larger than the other) is an easy and affordable way to create sophisticated detail when the frame is simple.